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Heart health report card


February 2014

Wisconsinís overall health ranking in the nation continues to decline. Now in 20th place of all 50 states, the Badger State has slipped from its 2012 score of 16th, and 12th in 2011. Wisconsin hasnít been one of the top 10 healthiest states since 1999, and this is our lowest score since 1990, the first year of Americaís Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation.

"The Midwest is not, in general, as health conscious as the rest of the nation," says Dr. John Wynsen, a cardiologist with Wisconsin Heart Group in Brookfield. "It is an ongoing battle for sure."

In the United States, cardiovascular disease causes one in three (approximately 800,000) deaths each year. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for men and women in Wisconsin, as in America. However, deaths from cardiovascular disease have consistently declined by 2 to 3 percent per year for the last decade. This is despite increasing risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that cause a higher risk for cardiovascular disease include smoking, diabetes, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol use. Fortunately, a majority of these risk factors can be prevented and controlled through increased physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight and eating a healthy diet.

By the Numbers

According to Americaís Health Rankings 2012, Wisconsin is rated 20th of 50 states in overall health. On a local level, Ozaukee comes in first of Wisconsinís 72 counties, Waukesha is ranked 13th, and Milwaukee County is 71st.

The County Health Rankings is a tool to illustrate what is making American people sick or healthy. The chart below indicates the number of adults who currently have unhealthy behaviors. For example, 21 percent of the adult population in Milwaukee County smokes every day or "most days" and has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, compared with only 13 percent of adults in the nation.


This story ran in the February 2014 issue of: